Jay Asher’s Latest Novel Is Perfect For The Holiday Season

29093326I loved Jay Asher’s two previous books so I couldn’t wait to dig into his new novel, What Light.  One of the things I noticed right off the bat is that the story has an incredible sense of place.  I feel like I am at the gorgeous Christmas tree farm in Oregon and in her family’s trailer when they sell their trees during the holiday season in California.  Sierra has two lives in a sense.  She lives in Oregon on her parent’s Christmas tree farm.  Each year at Thanksgiving they move to California for the holiday season to sell their trees at the same lot her grandparents ran many years ago.  Sierra has a best friend in California she looks forward to seeing every year.  Heather decides that Sierra needs a winter romance, but Sierra wants no part of it until she sees Caleb.  Caleb has a dark past that has made him a bit of a pariah in his small town.  But Sierra knows there is more to his story and sees the sadness in his eyes.  At the same time Sierra’s parents are struggling with the economic challenges of opening the tree lot each year which would end their holiday tradition.  This is a beautiful story of love and forgiveness.  It gave me the warm fuzzies with its holiday atmosphere.  I highly recommend this one on your holiday reading list.  This is one of my favorite reads of 2016.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss how Sierra’s life is different in Oregon her time in California.

What makes Caleb more appealing to Sierra than Andrew?

Discuss what it would mean to have a vocation that you loved the way Sierra’s parents love their farm and seeing the customers faces as they pick out their favorite tree.

Discuss that moment where Caleb realizes Sierra has heard something about him.

Discuss how their relationship unfolds.  How did Sierra and Caleb change each other’s lives?

Discuss how rumors can affect someone’s life.

Discuss Caleb’s relationship with his former best friend and how his family acted around him.

What do you think is next for Caleb and Sierra?



Christmas Romance With Cheerleaders and Tea Cup Pigs

Popular teen authors, John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle write three intertwined short stories about Christmas romances.  Maureen Johnson starts with “Jubilee Express.”  Jubilee (yes, that is her name) is heading to her grandparents after her parents are arrested on Christmas Eve for taking part in a riot at the Flobie Santa Village factory.  Jubilee is upset that she’s missing Christmas with her overachiever boyfriend, but even more upset that he doesn’t have time to listen to her troubles.  On the train, she meets Jed, who we’ll get to know better in the third story.  Jubilee’s train gets stuck during a snow storm, forcing her to schlep over to the Waffle Hut with 14 perky cheerleaders.  There she meets Stewart.  We also meet the interesting “tin foil guy” who makes other appearances as the next two stories unfold.

 In John Green’s Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, we find out how the guys at the Waffle Hut feel about being invaded by cheerleaders.  It’s a Christmas Miracle!!  Kuen phones friends, JP, Tobin and “The Duke” and tells them to get there, pronto and bring the game, Twister.   The story is filled with John’s signature hilariously witty friend banter.  There is also a great car race in the snow between the friends and two lopsided twins.  Tobin realizes he should have been thinking about the girl sitting next to him, instead of perky cheerleaders.

 In The Patron Saint Of Pigs, Addie is heartbroken because she ended things with her boyfriend, Jed.  (You’ll remember Jed from the train, he is also moping at the Waffle Hut in the 2nd story.) Addie is a bit of a drama queen, as her two friends subtly remind her.  Jed is not the boyfriend Addie wants him to be.  She would like him to be more romantic (Edward Cullen-like, I am assuming.)  After Addie’s huge mistake, Jed is supposed to meet her at Starbucks.  When he never shows, Addie suspects the worst.  Addie’s friend, Tegan has a pig obsession.  Enter the world’s cutest pig, a tiny tea cup pig named Gabriel and lewd boy named Charlie and a bus full of senior citizens and the cast of interesting characters grows even larger. 

 Some ideas for discussing with teens:

 Addie wants Jeb to change.  She doesn’t think he’s romantic enough.  Talk about how drama can get in the way of a good relationship.

 Why are the guys so obsessed with the cheerleaders?  Talk about how the cheerleaders pay attention to them at first and why the guys are disappointed later.

 Jubilee thinks she has a great relationship with her overachiever boyfriend.  Talk about how she may have lost herself along the way.

 What drew Jubilee & Stewart, Addie & Jed, Tobin and Angie to each other?

 Tobin and the Duke (Angie) are good friends.  The Duke likes Tobin, but he is afraid to ruin the friendship.  Talk about making that transition between friends and more than friends.